Let me ask you a question: How are you doing?

On 23rd March 2020 I made a promise to myself that, whatever happened, I would come out of this malarkey in a good place mentally and I would help others to do the same. Why did I make this promise? Well, as those of you who read my blogs know (thank you, and for those who don’t—good to meet you) on that day two things happened. 1. On paper I didn’t have a business and 2, I was told I was extremely vulnerable and—to quote my GD—Covid 19 could well kill me if I got it!

So, while dealing with potentially having no business I also had to deal psychologically with this new label and its potential implications. What I did was decide that I would be open with these issues, tell people how I was feeling and how I was coping. That’s not the way people in business interreact with other businesspeople. Right? Wrong! We decide how we communicate. I surround myself with people who are humans and not robots, people who have lives, both inside and outside of business, challenges as well as opportunities. What I found was that by being open with how I was feeling, as well as how my business was doing, people felt able to tell me how they were doing and feeling.

When I asked how are things going? I let them decide what they told me and which area of their life they wanted to tell me about. I’ve had men and women crying because they were worried about their family, friends, staff, business, and the future. Together we have shared, supported, and moved forward. In fact, we built our relationships…and as we all know, that’s what networking is all about. Each working day I rang three people who I might have previously emailed. Some were members, some contacts, some randomly chosen, others people who I could have sent an email. Each time I asked my question and waited for their reply. Some chose to talk as they would before Covid 19 came on our radar and changed our lives, others who talked about other things.

In the main things are getting better for us all. One thing I hope is that we retain some of this talking about our mental wellbeing not just how our business is going. So, are you with me? And, how are you doing?

Since networking is about building relationships, please accept my gift of Top 20 networking tips Just complete the form to download your copy.

Have fun, stay safe.

Glenys

Grieve and release.

Recently I was talking to a business contact about a problem she had had with technology. Now, technology and I don’t get along, so I was commiserating without really understanding the problem. What I did understand was that a great chunk of her work had disappeared and could not be retrieved. Now, I may not have understood why or how this had happened, but I felt my stomach drop as I thought about the implications of what had happened. What would I do if this had happened to me and my business?

She seemed very calm and philosophical about the whole thing and I said this to her. What she said made me think. She said that she realised she had gone through some of the stages of grieving. She grieved and moved on. At that point we had to move on, but she had started me thinking. So, when I got back to the office, I looked up the stages of grief and apparently it is generally accepted there are 7 stages. They are:

  • Shock and denial.
  • Pain and guilt.
  • Anger and bargaining.
  • Depression.
  • The upward turn.
  • Reconstruction and working through.
  • Acceptance and hope.

Once I read this, I realised that in business if something catastrophic happens we rarely have the luxury of time to ‘grieve’, as we must deal and move on. We need to learn from the experience rather than allowing it to stop us. It may be that ‘grieve’ is too strong a word and perhaps the process is actually ‘breathe and move on’.

What do you think?

To help build our relationship, please accept my gift of Top 20 networking tips . Just complete the form to download your copy.

Have fun, stay safe

Glenys

Owning a business? It should be fun.

In the last couple of weeks, I have had some conversations with people who are relatively new to business (less than 2 years) and who were finding it all quite difficult. One said, “When does it get easier?” Another said, “I’m always working” and another said, “It’s just so hard to juggle everything that needs doing”. All these are valid points about owning a business and I certainly have thought them all in the first couple of years. So, for each one we spent some time talking through their issues, starting with their comments.

Before I look at this though, I want to start with how it was for me when I started my first business 25 years ago. I left my corporate job because I was not having fun. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I did know I didn’t want to stay doing what I was doing and had done for nearly 24 years.

What to do? Well, what I did was talk to friends and ask them what I should do. In fact, I networked!

 I also realised 3 things:

1. I needed some “Rules to live by”

2. I didn’t, and couldn’t, know everything

3. I had skills which people would pay to use.

How did that go?

1 The rules I set were:

  • Whatever I did had to be fun, otherwise I could stay employed not having fun but getting a very good salary plus bonus etc.
  • I would never do anything I didn’t want to do; with anyone I didn’t want to do it with. I would choose how my business grew and who I worked with and for.
  • I would never go back to working full-time and permanently for anyone ever again. So, in the first year when money was scarce, I did part time and temporary jobs that added to my skills for example I worked in a call centre doing cold calling.

2. I networked and found people who enjoyed stuff like accounts, IT, HR, marketing, admin etc. Things which I didn’t want to do. This meant that I could focus on building my business, getting and doing the work, which were things I did want to do.

3.  I was very well trained when I worked in the corporate world. I managed a large budget and two large teams, and I had some national responsibilities. I saw the worth in what I had been trained to do and knew that most, if not all, were transferable skills.

These were my rules and they worked for me.

Now let’s look at the three observations I started with:

“When does it get easier” Whatever the size of your company there will be difficult times and these don’t come in a linear fashion, because it sometimes seems just when you think things are going well you hit a bump. This, for me, is part of the excitement, the challenge, and sometimes this can be frustrating but on each occasion I learn. It does become easier with more experience but that can be said of anything I think.

“I’m always working” When you run your own business this is always true. I now have a rule that I don’t work after 6.30 and never at weekends. But by this I mean physical work, so I never stop working because my brain may have a lightbulb moment and I may need to give it some time to develop the idea, and this might be after 6.30 or during a weekend. Of course, I now have a business where people rarely contact me and say “I need to network now” which was not true of previous businesses I’ve had, where customers would need something urgently, e.g. a last-minute corporate lunch that needed catering.  But with the customer who did this fairly regularly I came to the agreement that I would always sort it for her but she would have no choice of what was provided. This meant I had a degree of control. Others I would not take the booking but pass then to another catering company who were happy to have that lack of control.

“It’s just so hard to juggle everything that needs doing”. Yes it is, but by developing suppliers you can focus on what you do best, things that make you money to pay suppliers and make a profit.

Owning a business is not for everyone but I love it: the challenges, the adventures, the successes. I could never go back to being employed, and as my beloved said once “You never did bosses well!”

The three people I started with are all deciding whether they should go back into employment. My question  to each was and would always be: are you having any fun? Because if you are not having fun, stop doing it. Go and get a job, and if that is not fun at least you have a regular salary that you can use to have fun outside of work.

What are your thoughts?

To help build our relationship, please accept my gift of Top 20 networking tips. Just complete the form to download your copy.

Glenys

Don’t talk in code…unless you are a spy.

Recently I was sending an email and used C/F instead of Chelmsford. The recipient said that she had taken some thought to work out what it meant. Fortunately, I know the person well but imagine if I hadn’t and had caused her this inconvenience.  I think we all use “shorthand”, usually work based, and assume people understand, but the reality is that we are potentially building barriers, and this doesn’t help with building relationships. Because communicating well is one way we build relationships.

This applies to not only how we communicate verbally but also in writing, and particularly how we communicate on our website. I can’t tell you7 the number of times I’ve gone to look at someone’s website and come away no better informed than when I started about what they do. Management speak, buzz words (Some of which never seem to disappear and are still incomprehensible to outsiders), and industry specific phrases which people outside that particular industry don’t come across. My C/F for example is Post Office shorthand which I last used professionally 25 years ago.

Yes people can ask, query, question but how many do? Most just move on to someone else, another person, another supplier, and we might be the person who could have been that supplier. What to do? My solution for long pieces of communication (Websites, policies, strategy reports) is to get someone to write it who does that professionally, for shorter pieces (Blog) is to get to someone outside my industry and ask them to read it. I ask the questions 1. Is it worth reading and 2. Do they understand what I am trying to communicate? Unfortunately, when communicating by, say, emails or when talking this separate check is impossible or would be too unwieldy. So, I try to be aware of talking in code but as my recent contact proved, I sometimes get it wrong.

What are your thoughts?

To help build our relationship, please accept my gift of 20 Top networking tips Just complete the form to download your copy.

Have fun, stay safe

Glenys

Networking?…it’s not really working

At the beginning of the year I was talking to a business contact about why his networking seemed to have stopped being so effective. He thought it was because people felt they couldn’t spend money because we are living in uncertain times or, he said, it might be because he was not meeting people face-to-face. So we started to talk in more depth because, he said, things were really not going well and they had been going very well.

The first question I asked was, had anything changed with his marketing? Well, of course, we were no longer allowed to meet face-to-face, but I know many people who had flourished despite having to use virtual meetings. So, not being able to meet face-to-face couldn’t be the problem, or at least not all of the problem. I also know many companies who have managed to maintain, and even grow, their business throughout the difficult times we have been living through. So, there is money out there that people want, or need, to spend.

Then he said “I really don’t like networking at virtual meetings”. (I’ve paraphrased a long monologue that he needed to get off his chest about what he really didn’t like about virtual meetings). Some of the things he mentioned are covered in my blog “Would you do that if we were meeting face to face?”

The main thing that came out was that he was networking less, so he was not meeting new contacts, and he was not nurturing those contacts he had made before March 2020. So we made a plan (I love a plan). We looked at what had happened to those networking events he used to attend and, for those which had started meeting virtually, we developed a diary of events he could attend. We also looked at what events were now available virtually and added them to his diary. He decided he would start by attending two or three a week. Finally, he decided to set aside half an hour a day for getting in touch with people he had lost touch with, to renew and develop the contacts he had worked hard to nurture. He actually made a promise to himself to do all this because, as he said ”I never break a promise.”

Every couple of weeks we would have a quick catch-up telephone chat, and guess what? Money is coming in! The reason it worked? Because you have to work at networking and keep working at it, otherwise it doesn’t work.

If you want more networking tips go to: Top 20 networking tips or get in touch if you would like me to work with you to improve your networking.

Have fun, stay safe.

Glenys

 

Meeting etiquette

Recently I was in a breakout room with someone who I had known since the first lockdown. Usually, she was great to spend time with: upbeat, knowledgeable in her field and not pushy. Today it was different, she obviously had to get something off her chest. It seems that, in the main room, someone was eating while being on camera, and she was irate!

My understanding of what was being said was that she thought this was unprofessional and disrespectful since, she said, whilst concentrating on eating, full attention was not being given to whatever was being said. Also, part of the problem was how close we are when we are meeting via a screen rather than when in a face-to-face meeting. Suffice to say once she had her say, she calmed down and became the upbeat, knowledgeable-in-her-field and not-pushy person I had known so far.

Now, I hadn’t seen the person eating, but her strong response got me thinking:

  • First, is eating during virtual meetings acceptable?
  • Next, if no, what is acceptable to consume?
  • And finally, the issue of people multi-tasking during meetings.

So, let’s look at each issue a bit more.

Is eating during virtual meetings acceptable?

Well, I’d rather not watch someone eating, and some people, I think, forget they are not sat on their own in their dining room. They shovel it in, munch away and keep inspecting whatever food is left in their hand. I don’t really like it and I do think it looks unprofessional. After all, how many meetings do you go to with potential customers where you eat your toast during the meeting? I don’t feel very strongly, but I would rather not see it in a virtual meeting. Furthermore, there’s no travelling time, so this saved time could be used to have the food before the meeting.

If eating is not acceptable, then is anything acceptable?

Now, I must admit to a challenge I have. I drink cappuccinos and, when I do, I have to stop myself from licking the spoon. There. It’s said, I’m working on it and trying my best. Phew! That’s better now it’s in the open. Anyway, from that you can see that I think it’s OK to drink non-alcoholic drinks during a virtual meeting—but from a glass, cup or receptacle that has been produced for drinking from. Not, as I saw once, drinking from the container it was bought in.

Multi-tasking during meetings

My contact was in part annoyed because she thought if people are eating, they are not concentrating on what is being said. I agree, and if you want to know more about this go to: https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=154

What do you think?

(And, in case you are saying, “Don’t ebn meet over breakfast?” Yes, we do, and we stop any kind of presenting while we all eat breakfast and chat to our neighbours, and we sit further apart than we do when we meet virtually.)

If you want more networking tips go to: https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html

Have fun, stay safe.

Glenys

It all happens subliminally.

Recently I was talking to a business contact about someone we both knew. He said “Oh I’d never refer him to my contacts, he’s always late and disorganised” I was surprised since I also thought the same thing. I was interested to work out why we had come to the same conclusion but we both didn’t really know why.

We discussed it further and realised that it was based on two things:

1 Arriving late at meetings, even virtual ones!

Now, neither of us had actively thought about this individually, but both of us thought he was always late, without being able to say when he had been late, how late and how often. We just both thought he was always late, and we wouldn’t make any introductions because we assumed he’d turn up late to any meeting.

2 Not prepared.

Again, we realised that we hadn’t made a decision about this, we just thought he was ill-prepared. My contact said he never came to a meeting and seemed to have thought about the meeting. In addition, my contact had once seen him give a presentation at an event and he didn’t seem to know what was coming next…and it was his presentation! Oh, and he had turned up late!

So why is any of this important?

We need to know that we all make judgements: “Wouldn’t have put those shoes with that dress” at a base level to “Wouldn’t refer him/her to my best client” at a much more important level. The problem is that some judgements we know we are making, even if we try not to.  Some judgements we make subliminally and those are the ones that are much more difficult to deal with.

The important thing is to know that subliminally we are all being judged, and so perhaps we need to behave as if we are trying to make a first impression.

What do you think?

If you want more networking tips go to: https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html

Have fun, stay safe

Glenys

I’m too busy to network

Recently I was talking to a business contact who said she was too busy at the moment to network. It is great that her business is thriving, but I think she is wrong about thinking the right time to network is when she is not busy.

Why? Because networking takes time. It’s a slow burn and people need to get to know you before they will be prepared to trust their reputation by referring you to their contacts. If you don’t network there may be a steep downturn between busy and no work at all. You need to maintain relationships, or even start to build relationships. I know this balancing of actual work against possible work is difficult, but remember: networking can be done by email, via social media, telephone calls, virtual meetings or 1-2-1s. Networking is about starting conversations, starting to build relationships. If the past months have taught us anything, it is that face-to-face is fantastic. I can’t wait to get back to those meetings, but there are other ways that allow networking.

Also, when you network skills are learnt, maintained and improved by practice, so if you stop networking, because you’re too busy, your skills can become rusty. In addition, maintaining your networking means that you stay on people’s radar. If you stop networking people will forget you, however fabulous you are, or think you’ve gone out of business, particularly given the challenging times we have all had since March 2020.

One of the things I have noticed in this last year+ is the number of new people who are networking, either because they decided to start a business in a very difficult year or because they have started to network because they feel more confident being in their office than in a room full of people. (If this is you, make face-to-face networking easy by reading my blog “The 3-3-3 rule” https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=34 )

Why is this relevant to your decision to network or not? Because if you don’t network you will miss the opportunity to meet all these new people and that’s a fabulous opportunity missed in my opinion, because you don’t know who they know.

So—don’t leave networking for when you aren’t busy. Add some networking to your diary every day, even if it’s just a phone call as you drink your morning coffee. Find a way to maintain your presence, contacts, and relationships. Networking works, I know. I now do it for a living.

If you want more networking tips go to: https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html

Have fun, stay safe

Glenys

It’s not personal.

I have a philosophy of life. You live it to the full, grabbing adventures and opportunities, laughing a lot, having excitement, and never settling for less than the best. This applies to all aspects of my life including my business. In fact, how I approach networking is that “you don’t have to be serious to be serious about business”[1].

So, what’s the problem?

Well, those people who ‘get’ me and my approach may be surprised to learn that some people don’t like my approach. I’ve been told that I’m overwhelming, I’m frivolous about networking, and that business is serious and should be treated seriously. I am happy that people feel able to voice their opinion. I also like that, as with any such feedback I receive, I can listen, think about it, and then change my behaviour, or not.

One person summed it up nicely “You’re a Marmite kind of person” I’m happy with that. Whoever we are, whatever we are like, someone won’t like us, the way we act, speak, how we dress…you get the idea. It might be that if people give us feedback they are trying to be helpful. For example, it might be they are giving advice based on how you are dressed and how the customers you are trying to attract dress.

During our lives, both personal and business, we make decisions that others may not like, approve of or support. That’s fine. Their opinion is based on their life and business experiences and their approach to life. Don’t worry, it isn’t personal. It can feel personal, but it really isn’t.

  • Potential customers say no to your product for all sorts of reasons.
  • Existing customers stop using your product for all kinds of reasons.

Think about when you decided that you didn’t want to use, or continue to use, a particular supplier…how often was that decision based on some personal reason?

You may want to reflect on any feedback they give you, and then change your product, process, system, or behaviour…or you may not. Because, whatever you decide, it’s not personal.

What do you think?

In the meantime, here’s my gift to you to help with you networking, my Top 20 networking tips .

Have fun, stay safe.

Glenys


[1] Thanks to Lesley Morrisey for this strapline

Don’t ask? Don’t get!

Whenever I wish someone a happy birthday I say “May your day be filled with love, laughter, fun and cake” which, to my mind, is a recipe for a perfect life, not just for a birthday. People then say variations of “Thank you” and I then ALWAYS ask “Will there be cake?” then, and because I am a very supportive person, I offer to help with any leftovers. Suffice to say I have never received any cake and I thought this was always going to be the case. Then one of my Linkedin connections said, “Where do you live?”

We discovered that we live about a mile apart. How amazing is that? Then she said, and this is not verbatim,” I’ve got loads of cake because apart from being my birthday I have also launched my book. I’ll bring some round”. Gasp! And she did! We had a lovely chat, with me about 4 metres away from her, and her being very respectful of the distancing. Then my beloved and I sat down to a cup of tea and some delish cakes (it was mid-afternoon on a Saturday afternoon when she arrived in case you are wondering).

When networking, I always want people to ask me for what they want or need. Why? Because I am always fabulous, but I am never going to be a mind reader (which is probably a good thing!). This applies to you and everyone you meet. If you need something you have to ask. That’s one of the reasons we network: people want to help. Don’t be pushy when asking, but that always applies in networking—and life—because no one likes pushy. Ask, don’t demand. Don’t get disillusioned or upset if you don’t get what you ask for, that’s how life goes. But one day you will ask someone like Elizabeth Forbes-Stobbe and you will get what you ask for and strengthen a connection.

What do you think?

In the meantime, here’s my gift to you to help with you networking, my Top 20 networking tips .

Have fun, stay safe.

Glenys